Monday, June 28, 2010

The backstories of baddies

There's been a good deal of concern over the years of the effects of violence in movies, on TV, and more recently, of video games, on young people, particularly young men. I was reminded of this while reading a brief overview of Tom Cruise's Knight and Day, where the 'the trigger-happy hero mows down just about everyone he meets.'

While I agree that the violence itself - the shooting down of random, faceless people is unhealthy - I think that something more is an issue. The issue is that the people who get mowed down aren't important because they don't have real lives, especially real lives beyond the story they're seen in.

When did you last come across an action movie or TV show where a baddie was actually connected to other real people? You might say that's not the point: they're the baddies; they're only there to act as fodder for the hero to dispose of.

But the problem is that young people can easily think the same way about real people in their lives: they're only 'extras' in the young person's life, therefore they don't count, because they don't have meaning beyond that.

I may be oversensitive, but I often think, when seeing a movie in which various bodyguards, security men, innocent bystanders are wiped off the face of the map, or innumerable cars (presumably with real drivers inside them) are blown up or tossed over the sides of cliffs and so on, that each of these people means something to someone else. Even the worst of the baddies has a family. They may not have much connection with their family, but they haven't sprung up out of nothing.

The scriptwriters may give that impression because it suits them not to think about it. What is it actually saying to the young people who watch the movies?

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